Superficial analysis, thy name is “When can I call myself a feminist again?” by Caille Millner
She’s embarrassed by the dinosaur doyennes of the US Feminist Second Wave engaging in activism for the upcoming election, and so she’s throwing the word “feminist” out of her wardrobe. Huh? Not to defend a few stupid things said by Steinem, Ferraro or Jong, but so what if some women coming out of retirement are not actually as up to the minute as they were when they were at the height of the protest movement? Seems to me like female elder statesmen are being held to a much higher standard, to the point of being expected to be moral exemplars, than any male elder statesmen ever are. You know, I think there’s a special terminology for that sort of phenomenon.
Even including Jong as a “leader” is a stretch – she was a novelist, and Ferraro was a politician, so Millner’s actually just left with Steinem as a genuine Second Wave doyenne – i.e. just one embarrassing doyenne is enough for her to reject the movement. Well, who can blame her? Everyone knows embarrassment kills more young women than breast cancer and car crashes combined.
In light of recent discussions in the femblogosphere about the limitations of white middle-class feminism for women in other socioeconomic groups who seek social justice, watch Millner provide a perfect example of fluffy middle-class “fun feminist” I’ve Got Mine So You Can Bugger Off thinking:
“I don’t focus on talking about gender equality,” said Rebecca Weeks, who is my age – 29 – and has what might be considered a “feminist” career as the head of business development for a comprehensive community for women on the Internet, divinecaroline.com. “I prefer to show men and women that I can negotiate, take care of finances, and work to anyone’s ability.”
Less talking means less whining and less identity politics. I like it.
Weeks adds that she “doesn’t get too involved in talking about politics. I’d much rather go out and be the change than argue for the change.” Yes. This is sounding good. This is sounding empowering, rather than depressing.
“The new behaviors we’re seeing in young women – buying their own homes, starting their own businesses, traveling the world – these aren’t revolutionary behaviors,” Weeks went on. “It’s the attitude of these women that’s truly progressive. They’re not angry at men for historical grievances. They’re just trying to take advantage of all these different opportunities without having anyone get in their way, male or female.”
Of course! This is my life – and Weeks’ life – and the life of virtually every other young woman we know. When and why did this perspective become incompatible with feminism?
Right, so long as middle and upper class women can use their social capital to gain the lifestyle that used to be confined to middle and upper class men, then gender equality is all sorted out. Any other women whose circumstances don’t allow them the advantages that middle and upper class women have and who can’t just buy their own homes and start their own businesses are just whining about gender equality, obviously, and making her feel uncomfortable and all as well, and they should just shut up please so that Carol can enjoy planning her next overseas holiday.
I’m sure I have failed to flagellate some other choice nuggets in this column. Go ahead and do some eviscerating of your own in comments.
Categories: gender & feminism, media
I love her message: “shuttup and spend more money!”
When women confuse consumerism with feminism is when they become completely antithetical to the ideology they claim to adhere to. Has she ever heard of intersecting priviledge? Just because there’s someone lower on the ladder than you now doesn’t mean that hierarchy doesn’t exist.
“fluffy bubble” is right
Although i agree to an extent with the more in-tune younger feminists that have commented recently on what they described as the “pathetic clinging” of the older generation to elderly figures such as Steinem and Greer whose formative years were the 1940s and are out of their depth in many dealings with later generations simply because of the cultural and temporal gap
Yes, well, feminist career because she’s doing some financial big-wiggery. Fair enough – there’s no doubt the woman’s an achiever.
But I have found that the sh*t h*ts the fan when you have children.
As for Steinem et al, those women fought some amazing battles, they prepared the ground for younger women, and I am grateful to them. And willing to listen to what they have to say, respectfully, even if reject some aspects of it, because our thinking has moved on. Guess what? We’re standing on the shoulders of giants, and the things that we can see now are only possible because of the work they did.
Right. Time to cook dinner, get the kids bathed, read a book, fold some washing, and then think about how to revive my career, in the interstices of my life.
Spot on. Millner’s not even seeing that the reason that Steinem et al’s remarks made the waves they did recently is because the media today is not even listening to the voices of younger radical women: their opinions are invisible to big media who sideline them dismissively by focussing their lens on women who are no longer at the height of their activist powers. Millner doesn’t even realise that her own paid place as a feisty-with-fluff columnist is because of her lack of radical views and directly works to further disappear the work of younger activist women.
Privilege is blind.
I think Deborah has highlighted a key problem here –
And this reminds me that there are a bunch of older feminists out there that I should track down and apologise to, I really knew jack shit when I debated them back then.
Hats off to young feminists who manage to be radical even before they’ve had the chance to be bucked off a high horse or two by life.
I especially love this:
“I prefer to show men and women that I can negotiate, take care of finances, and work to anyone’s ability.”
Does it really not dawn on these women that the need to prove yourself in all those areas is a problem? “With a lot of effort, I can demonstrate that I’m as good as a man!” isn’t feminism in my book, so I’m perfectly happy to keep the word and lose Millner.